It's strawberry fields time out east

Strawberry picking at Harbes Family Farm on Sound

Strawberry picking at Harbes Family Farm on Sound Avenue in Mattituck. (June 2007) (Credit: Newsday)

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There's not much that beats the taste of a ripe, sun-warmed strawberry -- unless you've got a whole quart of them. This is the time when Long Island farmers open their fields to customers to pick their berries. Here's what you need to know to make your outings fun and fruitful.

 WHEN TO GO

Long Island's colder, wetter spring means slow picking for strawberry lovers this year.

"We really haven't had a spring," says Mary Lewin of Fritz Lewin Farms in Calverton. "We went from cold to hot. Strawberries like warm days and cool nights for the best yield."

While some fields are open now, it may just take a little longer to fill that quart container.

"There will be strawberries in early June, but the second and third weeks of June should be the best picking," says Faye Anderson, co-owner of Anderson Farms Riverhead.

To lengthen the season, many farms plant multiple varieties of berries that are ready early and late.

If you're going picking, it's best to call ahead to make sure the fields are open and not too wet or picked out for the day. Some farms stop taking pickers within a half-hour of closing.

 WHAT IT COSTS

 U-pick strawberries range from about $2.50 to $5 a quart, with already-picked strawberries running about $4.50 to $7 a quart at farm stands.

A few fields are now charging an admission fee -- many will waive the container fee (10 cents to 25 cents) if you bring your own.

 WHERE TO PICK BERRIES

 Anderson Farms

 Riverhead Roanoke Avenue, Riverhead

631-727-2559

HOURS 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, U-pick closed Tuesday

CONTAINER FEE 10 cents a quart or 50 cents for 4-quart basket

 Condzella's Farm

 Route 25A east of William Floyd Parkway, Wading River 631-929-5058

HOURS 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily

CONTAINER FEE 10 cents to 25 cents

 Densieski Farms

 Lewis Road, East Quogue 631-653-5221

HOURS 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily

CONTAINER FEE To be determined

 Domaleski Farms

 Route 48, Mattituck 631-734-6886

HOURS 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily

No fee for containers.

 Fritz Lewin Farms

 Corner of Sound and Edwards avenues, Calverton 631-727-3346

HOURS  9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily

CONTAINER FEE  50 cents (but you can bring your own)

 Golden Earthworm Organic Farm

 652 Peconic Bay Blvd., Jamesport 631-722-3302

HOURS 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday

No fee for containers.

 Glover Farms

 633 Victory Rd., Brookhaven 631-286-2226

HOURS 10 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. weekends

CONTAINER FEE 50 cents per quart, $1 4-quart container

 Hank's Farm Stand

 County Road 39, Southampton 631-726-4667

HOURS 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily

ADMISSION $5 (includes one quart of berries)

 Lewin Farms

 812 Sound Ave., Calverton 631-929-4327

HOURS Varies

CONTAINER FEE 10 cents, but you can bring your own

 Patty's Berries and Bunches

(Formerly Harbes Berry Farm)

410 Sound Ave., Mattituck 631-298-4679, pattysberriesandbunches.com

HOURS 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily

No fee for containers.

 Rottkamp's Fox Hollow Farm

 2287 Sound Ave., Calverton 631-727-1786

HOURS 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday-Sunday

Container fees.

 Wickham's Fruit Farm

 28700 Rte. 25, Cutchogue 631-734-6441, wickhamsfruitfarm.com

HOURS 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Closed Sunday.

ADMISSION $20 annual U-pick club fee per family

 Windy Acres

 3810 Middle Country Rd. (Route 25), Calverton 631-727-4554

HOURS 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily

ADMISSION $1

No fee for containers.

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